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Court: Injured Officer May Sue Black Lives Matter Leader

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 06, 2019 9:00 AM

A federal appeals court revived a police officer's lawsuit for injuries he suffered during a Black Lives Matter protest.

In the complaint, the officer alleges that protestors struck him with a cement block that knocked out his teeth, injured his jaw, and caused brain damage. According to reports, they were enraged by a police-shooting in Baton Rouge in 2016.

A trial judge threw out the lawsuit, saying Black Lives Matter is not a legal entity that can be sued. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, but allowed the case to proceed against the organizer.

Alton Sterling

Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside a convenience store when police arrived. They were responding to a call that Sterling, a felon, had a gun. A security video showed officers tazing, shooting and killing Sterling while he was on the ground. The graphic video played out on various media, setting off days of protests. On July 9, 2016, activist DeRay Mckesson lead protestors onto a highway in a demonstration that turned violent.

The injured police officer sued, alleging the Black Lives Matter activist should have known violence would ensure. The Fifth Circuit agreed. "Mckesson should have known that leading the demonstrators onto a busy highway was most nearly certain to provoke a confrontation between police and the mass of demonstrators, yet he ignored the foreseeable danger to officers, bystanders, and demonstrators, and notwithstanding, did so anyway," Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote for the court.

John Doe

The appeals court said the officer had a case, but did not say he would win. The case will go back to the trial court for further proceedings. Mckesson said he was disappointed with the decision. "I am currently exploring my legal options and will respond formally soon," he told reporters.

Donna Grodner, the officer's attorney, called the ruling a "stand-up victory for the Baton Rouge PD." Her client is identified in the complaint as John Doe.

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